Iím going to save myself some time and put some basic information on skis in one thread so hopefully I don't have to look and respond to a hundred threads often asking for the same thing. It might seem like a lot, but itís actually pretty general, and Iím sure Iíll get called out for a bunch of it.
There may seem like a lot of options for your next ski, and there are, but when knowing a few key things should make it easier. The most important things to keep in mind are: SKI WIDTH, LENGTH and STIFFNESS. There are other things, CONSTRUCTION, SIDECUT and CAMBER/ROCKER, and yes, STYLE that I consider to be less important, but should still be considered. I guarantee you there is a ski on the market for everyone here, you just need to think about what kind of skiing you do and find one that fits.
This is usually the first thing anyone looks at in a ski, and with good reason. Width and stiffness are the two most important things when choosing the ski thatís right for you. Everyone knows that if your ski is wider, it floats over powder better, but because of this a real "wider is cooler" mentality exists. Iíll admit I have it. Iím not satisfied until Iíve got a fat ass ski on my wall to look at and enjoy. But this doesn't mean you're going to have more fun on a fat ski. So what width should you buy? Well, width should be pretty easy to decide with a general guideline. Different preferences definitely exist, but if you felt you needed to ask on newschoolers what ski you should by, this is probably a good place to start.
< 80 - Doesn't really exist much on the freeski market anymore, so Iím not really going to discuss it.
80-90 - This is usually going to be a park ski. It's certainly wider than your traditional parabolic ski, so it's still stable and not jumping all over the place when you're trying to take off or land, but it's on the narrow end of a freestyle ski. Having your ski on the narrower side makes it lighter. It's also easier to control on the nice groomed snow of the park. Everybody wants a fat ski, but if you're a park rat, sticking in this zone is gonna make skiing park easier and probably more fun, simple as that. And, if you're on the east, almost never skiing powder, a ski in the 88+ range will still make a great all mountain ski, providing it's stiff enough, which Iíll talk about later.
90-100 - These are your traditional "east coast with a little west coast" all mountain skis, which I find a lot of people are looking for. These skis aren't going to be as light, but they're still pretty darn manoeuvrable. You can open them up on a groomer and crank them around. If you get into a little deep snow, they'll help you stay above it. If you want to bring them into the park, why the hell not, theyíll kick ass. These skis like to do a little bit of everything. If you're out west, skiing more deep stuff than not, you'll want to look a little wider, but if you just want a ski that can handle some powder should the opportunity arise, one this width should do the trick.
100-110 - Iím going to call these skis "west coast all mountain skis." These skis will be able to handle some groomers, you'll be able to turn them and have fun, but they're obviously designed to handle more deep snow. If you're living out west and want a ski that you can do everything on, this will be a good width. Narrower won't be as much fun in powder, wider won't be as much fun anywhere else.
110+ - We're getting into some skis that are going to truly excel in powder, but when you're the kind of skier that needs this sort of ski, you probably know what you want and don't want to read a rambling thread. And, honestly there are probably other people that know much better than me the different nuances of skis this wide. As you get wider and wider, the ski floats better in snow, but at the risk of losing manoeuvrability. If you need more info ask, but I doubt it'll be needed.
New people buying twintips buy them too short way too often, so Iíll explain length pretty quick. A twintip ski has, you guessed it, a second tip on the back. This means that a solid 3-4 inches aren't contacting the snow, and you need to compensate for that. My preference is usually up to my eyebrows for a park ski. But, as skis get wider, they become less torsionally stiff, (ie, they twist more) and you need to ski a longer size to compensate. (this is my understanding of it, if Iím wrong somebody correct me) So, the basic guideline I use is:
80-90 width - eyebrows
90-100 - as tall as me
100+ - a couple inches over my head
I don't buy fat skis often, so if anyone has a better way of choosing the height in a wider ski, say so, but regardless keep in mind that wider skis ski longer.
And this is a place where a lot of differing opinion exists. Some people love their short skis, some people love their skis really long, but if you donít have an opinion yet and you follow these guidelines, youíll have a good time Iím sure.
I feel like this is the last truly important aspect of your ski choice. A softer ski is going to be playful and fun. Theyíll butter with no effort, theyíll pop like nothing, theyíre a gas. But, when you get going fast, they chop around, they wonít hold an edge, youíll lose a lot of control. A stiffer ski will hold that edge, stick that landing and stay in control, but just wonít be as playful. So, my general guideline for this is if you like to mess around, butter, spin, ollie all over the place, go with a softer ski. Get the right width for where youíre skiing, but you can have fun on a good, softer ski in deep or hard snow. Seriously, theyíre a ton of fun. But, if you like to ski hard and aggressively, you just wanna go big and go fast, get something stiff. Youíre going to hate the noodle under your foot and want a board. A good stiff ski is awesome when you want to feel bad ass and rip the shit out of that line.
Keep your weight in mind when looking at stiffness too. If youíre a stick, look something softer, if youíre a moose, look at something stiffer, but just remember the basic idea: softer more playful, stiffer more aggressive.
Those are the big three, and if you find a ski that fits where/how you ski from what I said there, you should be having a good time. But thereís always some other little things to consider.
When youíre talking about ski construction two terms are going to come up: sidewall/sandwich and capped. I donít consider this as important to talk about because thereís good and bad to both constructions, and as long as your ski fits your width, length, stiffness requirements, itíll be fun, but here it is. In general, sidewall skis are more torsionally stiff, meaning that they will hold a better edge on snow. They also tend to be the stronger construction, so they might last you longer. But, they arenít as playful or as poppy. Also, your top sheet will get chipped up and look bad, just the nature of the beast. Capped skis, which I think get a bad rap, are lights, more playful and very poppy. Theyíre a ton of fun. But, they arenít usually as stiff, and arenít as durable.
This is good stuff to know, but as I said saying, if you find a ski that fits the big three up top, itíll still be a good ski for you. And companies tend to know what theyíre doing when choosing the construction of a ski. If it fits your ski style, itís construction will probably work for you.
The same goes for the core of the ski, whether itís wood or foam. People, hate foam core and love wood core, and with reason. Foam core is cheap and not very durable. But most in freestyle skis are wood core anyway. The only foam core skis really are the youth skis, in which case you donít need anything more anyway, so you can save the dollars.
Iím going to take flak for this, but the way I see it sidecut doesnít differ too drastically between different freestyle skis. Every company has a different take on it, and I find that pretty much all of them are fun as long as the width underfoot and the stiffness fit where Iím skiing and how Iím skiing. If you have questions about it, ask. If you think Iím an idiot, post and say why, but thatís all Iíve really got to say about sidecut.
Iím rambling on far more than I should, so all Iíll say about rocker and camber is that in my personal opinion, rocker works great in deep snow, but thatís all Iíd ever buy it for. There are all kinds of rockered park skis, and I just donít like them. I find them skittish and lacking pop. Tons of pros who are way better than me use them, but Iíll take a traditionally cambered ski for park and groomer skiing.
It seems like thereís a ton of stuff to keep in mind up there, but this is all to hopefully help answer some questions. Weíre lucky in skiing because itís a damn fun sport. As long as you have two sticks strapped to your feet, you should be able to have a good time. Like I keep saying, the most important thing to keep in mind when buying a ski is width and stiffness. If you have those two things on lock, youíre laughing. And the great thing is there are a ton of brands, and so youíll be able to find lots of different skis that fit the bill. So be picky. If you want a playful ski to ski some powder, some trees and some groomers, you should be looking at a softer ski thatís somewhere around 100-110. Tons of companies make a ski like that, so look around, find one that you think looks sick. People say you shouldnít take looks into account, but fuck yes you should. Thereís rarely going to be ďone perfect skiĒ for you. Thereís going to be lots, and youíre going to be way more stoked on the one you think is gorgeous. So as long as the ski fits what youíre doing, find one that looks damn good.
As for price, another general guideline is that you get what you pay for. Two similar skis, one at $600 one at $800, youíre probably getting a more durable ski for the extra dough. Or maybe a ski from a smaller company that you can work with a little more directly if you have issues. But, like all salespeople, I think price should be the last consideration. This is an investment. Find one that fits your ski style and that looks amazing, and youíre going to love these skis. Youíre going ski the hell out of them, and love the sport even more than you do right now. So, if the perfect ski for you is a hundred more, save up a little longer, and buy it. Donít cheap out, donít get something that wonít work or that you donít like, youíll regret it, I guarantee it.
This didnít end up being as brief as Iíd hoped, but Iíve still glossed over some key things here. If anyone disagrees with anything Iíve said, say so. We can have a discussion and in the end probably give even better advice. If youíre still not sure about a ski, ask, and we can give advice. But even though this ended up being a longer post than I intended, itíll still take less time to read than the twenty ďwhat skis should I buyĒ threads that pop up every day.
Hope that helps. Now watch these, buy a ski and wait for snow.
Adam Delorme - Refresh Segment